Airlines face legal action over ‘unfair’ baggage fees

Legal action is being considered in Spain against airlines which fly out of Malaga and charge passengers to check in their luggage and issue boarding passes.

According to weekly English language newspaper Sur in English, the Malaga Prosecution Office is compiling a list of airlines which charge to put luggage in the hold, thought to be between 15 and 20 carriers.

The newspaper reports the prosecutor’s office has vowed to take action because of complaints by customers that the practice is unfair.

The office will base its argument on the Spanish air navigation law of 1960, which says airlines are obliged to carry a passenger’s luggage within the price of the ticket.

The action, likely to be heard in a regional Spanish court, will be largely aimed at budget carriers although the policy is becoming more widespread.

Recent research showed the amount airlines received from ancilliary revenue, which includes baggage fees, increased by 66% from 2009 to 2011. The Amadeus Review of Ancilliary Results for 2011, researched by aviation consultancy IdeaWorksCompany, showed airlines globally took more than £14 billion in ancillary revenue on credit cards last year.

In a second case, the Malaga prosecution office is keen to take action against airlines which charge passengers to check-in, despite the fact it is an essential part of their journey.

This follows a separate case in May this year, in which the Spanish consumers action group FACUA reported Ryanair for charging €50 to anyone carrying more than one piece of hand luggage. It cited the same 1960 law and said the low-cost airline’s practice was illegal.

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